Skeptic » eSkeptic » April 1, 2009

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

In this week’s eSkeptic, we reveal the behind the scenes workings of that UFO hoax that captured headlines earlier this year. People in and around the Morristown, New Jersey area saw unidentified flying objects, with many of them naturally assuming that these UFOs represented extraterrestrial space craft. As you shall see, there was a rather more terrestrial explanation. In fact, they were helium balloons with flares attached to them, lofted into the sky by Chris Russo and Joe Rudy, in their social experiment on how to create your own media event surrounding UFO sightings.

Even though this does not mean that all UFO sightings are hoaxes — of course many represent other terrestrial (instead of extraterrestrial) events such as the planet Venus, military aircraft, weather balloons, advertising planes, and the like (and even, pace Men in Black, swamp gas) — it does reveal how the human mind connects the dots and fills in the gaps with plausible explanations that often include fantastic tales of alien beings. Enjoy the story and watch the video clips of this amazing hoax!


Joe Rudy releases a burning flare along side the smoke trail left by a vanished balloon while Chris Russo kneels down to get the next flare ready.

How We Staged the Morristown UFO Hoax

Chris Russo & Joe Rudy

Have you ever seen the face of the Virgin Mary on your grilled cheese? How about the image of Satan in a cloud of smoke? Or Sasquatch running through the woods? What about an alien spacecraft in the sky?

It is not difficult to find people who respond with an astounding “yes!” to one of these — or all four. Humans are, by nature, experts at finding patterns whether they are real or not, and UFOs are among the most common patterns people find in the skies. Now, you may be thinking that UFOs are only seen by a mullet sporting, tobacco chewing, dolt whose highest aspiration is to make an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show, but in fact doctors, lawyers and even pilots report seeing flying saucers, flying triangles, and aerial shapes of all manner of an unidentified nature. Even over the skies of an affluent suburban community in New Jersey. Enter Joe Rudy and Chris Russo and the great UFO hoax of 2009.

Mystery still alive: New lights in the sky. Night sightings in Morris spark speculation

headline from Morris County Daily Record January 31, 2009

In November of 2008, we found ourselves sitting around one evening discussing pseudoscience and the large numbers of people that still believe in its various guises. We had always had a strong interest in why people were so easily fooled by such irrational superstitions as psychic ability, spiritual mediums, alien abductions, and the like. Despite the lack of evidence to support these notions, we were baffled. How could so many people in an age of science still buy into dogma that is no more or less ridiculous than the notion of an elderly obese man delivering presents to every child on Earth in one evening? And like most other people, we had always heard about the uneducated farmer spotting an alien spaceship hovering over his farm, but we wondered if that amount of gullibility could be found in our upper-middle class hometown of Hanover, NJ, and the surrounding cities.

The modern UFO phenomena began in 1947 when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold spotted objects that he described as “crescent shaped,” adding that they “moved like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water.” He was subsequently misquoted by an Associated Press reporter as having seen “flying saucers,” which he later corrected, noting: “They said that I’d said they were saucer-like. I said they flew in saucer-like fashion.” Nevertheless, the flying saucer craze was born and 60 years later, despite the fact that there is still no evidence of their existence, the UFO myth is as strong today as ever, fed by cable channel shows that prop up UFO “experts” who claim to be authorities on a subject that’s on par with astrology and palm reading. These charlatans make a career by perpetuating the E.T. fairy tale and exploiting credulous people who want nothing more than a good conspiracy theory to believe in.

Warnock ad

ad published by a local auto dealership taking advantage of the publicity

It is in this context that we set out on a mission to help people think rationally and question the credibility of so-called UFO “professionals.” We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up controversy, and then expose it as nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.

We hatched the idea of tying flares onto helium balloons and launching them in a nearby field — an open yet isolated area surrounded by woods. There we were sure that we would have the privacy to prep the balloons, and that we wouldn’t have our plot foiled. From the beginning we decided to document all aspects of the project, including setting up the flares and balloons, launching them into the sky, and recording any media coverage that the “UFOs” received. The documentation was especially important in order to prevent conspiracy theorists from claiming that we were part of a cover-up of the truth when we revealed the hoax.

On January 5, 2009, we set out into the woods on the border of Morris Plains and Hanover, NJ, carrying one helium tank, five balloons, five flares, fishing line, duct tape, and a video camera. After filling up one 3-foot balloon with helium, we tied about five feet of fishing line to the balloon, secured the line with tape, then tied and taped the flare to the other end of the line. Once all five balloons were ready for takeoff (with our fingers on the verge of frost bite), we struck the 15-minute flares and released them into the sky in increments of fifteen seconds apart from each other. We filmed the “UFOs” as they floated away, and then walked the half-mile stretch out of the woods to our car. The hoax was underway.

Fox News screenshot

national media coverage on Fox News

The media coverage the incident received over the next few days was extensive. Both local and national news stations were covering the UFO over New Jersey. The local paper had a field day with it, quoting a doctor who said the mysterious lights traveled against the wind, and quoting another man who said the object “didn’t appear to be manmade.” The most sought after witnesses were the Hurley family. Paul Hurley, a pilot, along with his family, made appearances on just about every major news station, describing the strange lights that they saw in the sky. The “Morristown UFO” became the talk of the town.

We followed up our light show with four more performances, gaining media attention every time. Every conspiracy website and radio show was mentioning it. To add fuel to the fire, we made appearances ourselves on News 12 New Jersey, on the Jeff Rense Program (a radio show that promotes conspiracy theories), and at an Illinois UFO symposium hosted by MUFON. We even provided our own footage.

To see a number of media stories, along with the footage we shot of our hoax being prepared and under way, follow the links at the end of this article.


fishing line was duct-taped on the flares

The icing on the cake came when the popular History Channel show UFO Hunters featured the Morristown UFO as their main story one week. Bill Birnes, the lead investigator of the show and the publisher of UFO Magazine, declared definitively that the Morristown UFO could not have been flares or Chinese lanterns. Surely Birnes, who has written and edited over 25 books and encyclopedias in the fields of human behavior, true crime, current affairs, history, psychology, business, computing, and the paranormal, and the co-author of The Day After Roswell (a New York Times bestseller in 1997 and subsequently a documentary on The History Channel), could not have let himself be fooled by a couple of twenty- somethings with no formal education in psychology. He could.

This begs an important question: are UFO investigators simply charlatans looking to make a quick buck off human gullibility, or are they alarmists using bad science to back up their biased opinions that extraterrestrial life is routinely visiting our planet? Either way, are these people deserving of their own shows on major cable networks? If a respected UFO investigator can be easily manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them? Do the networks buy into this nonsense, or are they in it for the ratings? How can a television network that has pretensions of providing honest and factual programming be taken seriously when the topic of one of their top rated shows deals with chasing flares and fishing line? In fact, we delivered what every perfect UFO case has: great video and pictures, “credible” eyewitnesses (doctors and pilots), and professional investigators convinced that something amazing was witnessed. Does this bring into question the validity of every other UFO case? We believe it does.

Watch the videos

Part 1 — The Setup

Part 2 — The Launches

Part 3 — The Reactions

About the Video Producers

Joe Rudy holds a B.S. in Science from Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. He teaches science, gives private classical music lessons, and is an accomplished classical music performer. He is an avid reader of Skeptic magazine and enjoys reading the works of James Randi, Carl Sagan, Michael Shermer, Christopher Hitchens, and especially Richard Dawkins. He currently resides in Chester, NJ.

Chris Russo has a degree in in management and economics from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. His current profession is in sales although he has spent some time modeling and acting. Although he has no intention of creating any more spaceships, he intends to continue his quest to spread reason and truth; one pseudoscience at a time. He currently lives in Morris Plains, NJ.

ebook cover

Share “What Do I Do Next?”
on Facebook!

Help get the word out about skeptical activism: read “What Do I Do Next?” (PDF) and then share it on your blog, website, or Facebook Profile!

You can share the Quick Reference Guide on Facebook with a single click, posting the point-form version of this free skeptical resource to your profile — or sending it directly to friends who may be interested. Or, share’s new Skeptical Activism page on Facebook. There, people will find the full PDF version of “What Do I Do Next?” as well as related audio and other resources.

Share the “What Do I Do Next?”
Quick Reference Guide on Facebook

Share’s new
Skeptical Activism page on Facebook website banner

The Banker’s Paradox

Is it possible that human relationships are nothing more than credit calculations and reciprocal relations, or, are human relations genuinely and deeply ingrained in our nature? Michael Shermer discusses the nature of altruism in the Banker‘s Paradox.

READ the post

While you’re there be sure to read the blog posts of the other Skepticbloggers: Brian Dunning, Kirsten Sanford, Mark Edward, Phil Plait, Ryan Johnson, Steven Novella, and Yau-Man Chan.



  1. Robert Neary says:

    I should have commented on this story after it came out… the hoax proposed here is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! It is essentially launching an incendiary device which could potentially start a fire. If the balloon, or line holding the flare, were to fail and fall in a house or field, the resulting damage has the potential to land the launchers in jail, civil court, or both.

    A much safer (and in my opinion, more effective) way to accomplish the same hoax is with a “fire balloon”.
    Constructed from balsa, dry cleaner plastic bag, and birthday candles, the balloon offers less likelihood of starting a fire should it blow into a tree, house or other obstruction.

    But it also makes a superior looking UFO as the candles illuminate the inside of the plastic bag giving it an eerie glow. The candles soon extinguish giving the appearance, as many UFO observers claim, of the object “speeding off”. I have launched several fire balloons to the delight of friends and family, usually on a cool night after it has rained.

    The “highway flare” method carries a much higher risk of accidental fire. I do not recommend it.

    • C. Morse says:

      That is exactly what my friends and I did in the early seventies.(We were in school at the time.) We caused the UFO flap over Akron Ohio. We followed our “UFO’s” to make sure others saw them by stopping in the road and pointing up at the sky. Then we asked the other observers what they saw. The response was amazing, if we suggested it was a saucer shape (it wasn’t) some of the people would say they saw that and then begin to embellish their story.
      This is the “UFO Effect” when otherwise rational individuals will observe something other than the truth. The human brain fills in the details based on that persons beliefs and life experiences.
      I don’t believe this serves any useful purpose, other than to demonstrate why I personally don’t believe eye witness testimony is very reliable.
      People who want to believe we are being visited always will. The argument that we simply couldn’t be the only intelligent life in the universe is hard to dispute. That said, you must consider how “rare” Earth may be. It is just the right distance from the Sun, has a magnetic field protecting us. It has a moon, large enough to affect the tides and animal life. Plus many other factors that may make the planet Earth a single pearl in a ocean of planets.

      • Creepy Green Light says:

        Is there anything online I can find/read regarding the 1970’s UFO flap over Akron? What were the details of the “hoax”? Thank you C. Morse.

  2. Caniswalensis says:

    A very dangerous, but informative stunt. You guys really caught Bill Birnes with this one. not sure it was worth the risk, but it worked out ok and no one was hurt, so kudos.

    On a sad note, you used the expression “begs the question” incorrectly here. You meant to say “raises the question.”

    They are entirely different. I would have thought that two critical thinkers like yourselfs would know what begging the question meant. It is an important concept. Oh, well.

    best wishes, Canis

  3. Jim Hawtree says:

    Suppose I arranged an elaborate hoax with before and after photos and x-rays and testimonials from alleged experts that someone had extensive dental work done, when in fact nothing of the sort happened, and the hoax is so expertly done that many dental experts are fooled into believing that the hoax was real — Could we then reasonably conclude that:

    “Dentistry exists” is not a true and reliable statement?

    Because one claim that fooled the experts was proved to be totally bogus, therefore all claims by dentists and their patients must not be trusted?

    Here’s the problem — the number of reliable witnesses and honest photographic evidences of UFOs is rapidly increasing, and has equalled and surpassed that of many accepted phenomena. Hundreds to thousands of people have watched and photographed giant UFOs for many minutes, sometimes for almost a half hour (e.g. the “Tinley Park Lights”). If fewer people have seen Antarctica than UFOs, can we conclude that those who claim Antarctica exists are less believable than those who say UFOs exist — especially if I can show that one person was lying who said he saw Antarctica?

  4. Occam's Spork says:

    Speaking as a long-time skeptic myself, I do have to point out that this was a poorly conducted experiment, if the authors are claiming to have followed any sort of scientific process. Aside from reporting the flares themselves not only to the media but also to a UFO reporting agency, Russo and Rudy also outright falsified their account of what they saw in their interview that appeared on News12, in an attempt to affect the outcome of their “experiment”.

    One interesting aspect of the witness reports, both regular bystander and expert, were that few of them seemed to be drawing the conclusion that the lights were alien spacecraft. Aside from those asked by reporters as to whether the lights were UFOs or not (and UFO does not mean alien spacecraft, alien spacecraft would constitute an IFO), only one individual (aside from Russo And Rudy) appeared to claim any odd behaviour by the lights. Perhaps, despite the authors’ attempts to affect the outcome, most people aren’t nearly as gullible as Russo and Rudy want them to be.

    I’m afraid I can’t pass judgment on Bill Birnes, as I still have as of yet to find out if he factored Russo and Rudy’s falsified testimony into his conclusion that the flare explanation was “implausible” (the UFO Hunters footage offered here is, unfortunately, incomplete). If so, then any criticism brought against this TV host by Russo and Rudy becomes pointless.

    The authors claim to be disproving a phenomena that they refer to as pseudoscience, but by leading their experiment they unfortunately have engaged in their own brand of pseudoscience in attempting to do so. Remember REAL science, guys, launch the experiment, then step back and watch. Don’t lead the rat through the maze.

    Regarding the lack of evidence on the matter, here’s some light reading regarding the subject:

  5. Aetna Dental Plans says:

    Thank you for writing and sharing this. It

  6. Ste1bro says:

    Well, Jim Hawtree, above, basically said what I was going to say, only better…

    This only proves that full-time Skeptics are basically just as evangelical as dangerous as their ‘Mulder’-ish counterparts.

    Evangelical skepticism does nothing but hold the human race back (see also: those who laughed at Copernicus, etc)…

    Having said that, a large degree of scientific detachment is a must when talking about UFOlogy, but I’m afraid this ‘experiment’ proves nothing.

  7. Donald Hughes says:

    Nice. Check out my blinking lights. A regular balloon launches these bright little 4-LED/chips and they only cost .50

  8. Donald Hughes says:

    Opps, I should have post the exact URL to the comment above.
    here it is:

  9. Wickerman1972 says:

    My primary problem with the way they did this is that they dictated so many things after releasing the balloons. They called the media, called the police, contacted MUFON, etc. They even invented a story about the objects racing over their car. I believe that a much more accurate study would have been to launch the balloons…and that’s it! They should have allowed events to proceed naturally after that point as opposed to pushing things in a certain direction. Yet despite all of their efforts there were people who got it right immediately, that they were simply flairs suspended from balloons. However, they did fool the Hurley family pretty good, ha ha. That guy is probably feeling like the world’s biggest horse’s behind right now. Ain’t it sickening that this crap-case (Barely moving pinpoints of light that could be anything. We have radar/visual sightings where high speeds and right angle turns are seen both by the witnesses and on the scopes. We’ve got the hundreds of trace evidence cases investigated by Ted Phillips. Yet Fox News wants to do a piece on this garbage?) made national news while most of the good cases get ignored? And who cares that they fooled Birnes? That guy believes EVERYTHING.

    • Lon says:

      Did they end up doing a story revealing the hoax and interview Hurley then? (Oh wow! He had 500 hours of flying! What a great witness!) I hope he feels like a bum. Hope that the other pilots laugh at him! I’ll bet all the same media that was drooling over this for weeks didn’t utter a peep after the hoaxers revealed themselves.

  10. soph says:

    I saw two triangles in the sky, but they looked like the citeon sign ( u no the car) has anyone else seen this?

  11. AnonymousAlien says:

    Mmmm… I think this is more of a prank than an ‘experiment’ – first it’s dangerous (flares+balloons? what could possibly go wrong) and second the results are far less conclusive than the authors would like us to believe.

    For example, the flares were immediately identified as such by the police, which was quick to dismiss this immediately as a prank. The only decent witness they managed with all this work is the Hurley family, which may or may not have been so keen to provide details had they not heard of the ‘other witnesses’… which were in fact the authors.

    • Sean says:

      Yep. The cops got it right, but the public didn’t want to hear that. They badly wanted UFO’s buzzing their town, and so the herd mentality continued. You guys on here act like the hoaxers single handily changed the whole area’s mind and brainwashed them into thinking it was a UFO. I agree, they should have let the balloons off and then not been seen or heard until they came out, but their point was still made. Go back and look at their “reaction” videos. People saying they “looked alive” and “moved in formation against the wind”, and “no man made thing could have done that”, and “most certainly not flares”, etc etc. And then the big fish. History channel moves in with their UFO HUNTER experts and basically proclaim it the next Area 51! Shoulda listened to the cops!

  12. Автандил Равилов says:


  13. Sean says:

    Jim Hawtree, that is the dumbest example you have come up with. Dentistry hoax. Really? There is no doubt Dentistry exists, yet plenty of doubt UFO’s do. You are probably mad because you fell for the hoax. It wasn’t 100% scientific, but to me, they sure made their point. People are gullible sheep.

  14. Sean says:

    Spork, you can’t “pass judgment on Bill Bines” because the 2 guys “falsified testimony”? What is this, a court of law? They were on the friggin local news.

    Bill Bines has “written and edited over 25 books and encyclopedias in the fields of human behavior, true crime, current affairs, history, psychology, business, computing, and the paranormal…” I think he can come to his own conclusions without the influence of TWO people.

    Face it. He completely blew it, and so did the History Channel for having this garbage show on their schedule. It belongs on the SCI FI network.

    It’s pathetic, I can’t even trust these “educational programming” channels to teach my kid anything of worth anymore. TLC, Discovery, A&E…. they all show garbage now.

  15. Sean says:

    I will totally agree on one thing… the utter lack of concern for safety on their part for air traffic. Unless they implemented some sort of safety procedure not mentioned in the videos (did they say how high they went?), then I don’t know what they were thinking. Extremely irresponsible.

  16. bubba says:

    What if the real experiment– the sit back and watch kind– was to do the hoax, post this story, and see how those with benefit of hindsight behaved?

  17. Randy says:

    There is enough evidence to make me feel that UFOs and alien life are seriously out there. How many reports and books have been done on the subject to show what is real and what the evidence is? There is tons of stuff!! Look into books by Richard Dolan and Stanton Friedman….listen to Coast to Coast AM ( and find more info regarding the subject even at your public library. I was once a skeptic, but I was convinced to look into things after an honest friend told me that he saw something in the sky that he could not believe. There is so much to learn and understand….and now is the time to do something with it! This link was on the NASA (Never A Straight Answer) web-site. Figure that one out?!

  18. J. Bowman says:

    Uneducated farmers? You can’t be serious! What, you think farmers never get past the 8th grade? Most farmers have forgotten more than you guys ever learned. Plus, farmers spend most of their life outdoors under the sky. Probably the best witnesses one could ever ask for.

  19. Jay says:

    Hoaxing is incredibly bad form to begin with, but the potential for causing a fire you go beyond mere bad form. We live in a world where people visit creationist museums to “Educate” themselves as to why the Earth is only 6,000 years old, or buy Astrology books.

    So we have young Earth creationist theme parks and “Museums” and an Astrology section in the book store. What does that tell you? That people organize to exploit the dumbing down.

  20. SkeleTony says:

    The anti-skeptic responses here are astounding.

    By identifying their own experiment as a “hoax” from the get-go, they were obviously NOT trying to convince you this was a double blind controlled study. So your contentions with it not following double-blind controlled protocol are irrelevant. The point was to illustrate gullibility that we are all prone to when we are not skeptical. I do not care if the authors themselves offered the inevitable “Couldn’t have been flares” rationalizations or some real anti-skeptic did so. The fact is many followed that(and no doubt preceded that) with their own similar anti-skeptic conclusions.

    Face it guys, there is not just NO evidence of extraterrestrial life visiting earth, there is much evidence AGAINST such and if you continue to refuse skepticism/critical thinking then you will continue to be fooled by hoaxes(as no doubt many replying here WERE in this case), frauds, misperception, etc.

    Also a reminder or two:

    1)Quantity of anecdotal accounts does not = QUALITY of evidence. It is fully possible(and regularly demonstrated) for BILLIONS to believe and report falsehoods as events they have witnessed.

    2)Citing Art Bell/Am Cost-to-Coast as a reference is exactly like citing Alex Jones/Infowars/Prison planet for conspiracies or J.Z. Knight/Ramtha for channeling/mediums, etc. Just plain BAD and irresponsible.

    • arlopear says:

      agreed. doesn’t sound like they were trying to change the world with the experiment. they never claimed it was a “scientific” experiment. sounds like they just wanted prove a point and discredit some so-called “ufo” experts…. we need more of this stuff! bravo guys! bravo skeptic….excellent article.

    • Franz says:

      Perhaps you should mention that quality is determined by institutions that have already decided what “can” be considered real and most of them dismiss UFOs simply because of the subject matter and then use “science” to confirm their beliefs about UFOs. They also control funding and politically disenfranchise groups of people that do study the subject That UFOs and ET’s are separate issues and that the many UFO sightngs do not necessarily “prove” ET intelligence the people that did see these things in the sky were not gullible. The only think that this prove is that anyone can perpetrate a lie if they have the resources……I think that that would give more credence to conspiracy theorists and disinformation, rather than these two pseudo-intellectual jocks.

  21. KdawG says:

    Clever idea, but I won’t say it wasn’t very dangerous. This proves the gullibility of human nature; blame that on evolution. This is great evidence for a research paper I’m writing. Next time when you make a hoax, don’t make it this dangerous, use LEDs or something.

  22. Rick James says:

    Science is becoming too commercial. The History Channel should not be showing fiction unless they disclose it as fiction. UFO hunters is just entertainment. 95% of claims of UFOs are nonsence but what about the remaining 5%? Everyone interested in the UFO subject should watch “I Know What I Saw”. It has aired on the History Channel and History Inter’l Channel. This show, by James Fox, offers credible evidence. Trained observers, like airline pilots, policemen and military personnel know how to spot the fakes. Michael Shermer should watch and comment.

  23. Casca says:

    One can believe in the existence of alien life visiting earth and still appreciate the hoax for what it was intended to accomplish.

    Too many people out there belong to the Coast to Coast AM Looney Brigade. They stay up all night, because they don’t have a job to go to in the morning and listen and drool and wait for their chance to call in and tell George all about his/her experience that is no more truthfull than the hoax played on the sheeple here.

    The best the critics can do is to pretend they’re angry over the possibilty that something dangerous could have come from this trick played on the gullible morons who think every light in the sky is the mothership and the Great Masters are going to save us from the black helicopters and the New World Order.

    You got burned. It was funny, It will happen again because stupid is something idiots like these, ever find a cure for.

  24. Dylan Thomas says:

    the only thing worse than those seeing aliens in every light in the sky are the skeptics who insult those who do. you can no more prove their non existence than the other side can prove their existence. a hoax like this really proves nothing we didn’t already know people will take notice of unidentified lights and objects in the night sky and if no explanation can be given…it’s human nature.
    but for skeptics to ridacule and belittle someone who’s beliefs they can’t disprove…to pull a hoax like this under the guise of science when in reality the intent was to embarass and humiliate, that isn’t human nature, it’s cruel. GOTCHA! tactics are sophmoric not scientific and they neither prove nor disprove the existence of alien craft. all this proves is what putz’s the hard core skeptics are to waste the time and energy trying to embarass such a harmless group as ufo believers. what harm have they posed with their beliefs, and don’t insult me with heavens gate because that was religon and all the major religons have their mythology of gods in heaven in flaming chariots.
    do i believe beyond doubt that alien craft are comming to earth? no, i’ve never seen one. do i believe beyond doubt that they aren’t? no, too many credible people have witnessed and investigated sightings that couldn’t be explained away. that is the difference between me, the hardcore believer and the hardcore skeptic.
    Dylan Thomas

  25. Swamp Gas says:

    You did nothing to discredit those who say they have seen UFO’s! What you sent up in the air WAS “unidentified” until you released what you had done. Bottom line is,in fact it was a UFO, until it was revealed to be terrestrial in nature.

    Unidentified means just that (UNIDENTIFIED). Bill Birnes knew this was not a normal occurence. You just showed your own ignorance by trying to deceive the people!

    Your stunt was so unorthodox that maybe the conclusion as to what it really could have been was just to confusing. Who would have ever thought that there would be people with the most unimaginable lack of respect for public saftey, that would send up ballons with flares attached, without regard for anyones wellbeing.

    If you want to think that some UFO investigator could actually pinpoint a pair of idiots, puting something in the air that was so unrealistically dangerous,and maybe on the verge of insane, I think you have your answer! You Are just plain stupid!

  26. Santa Claus says:

    How many times are people are going to say “you didn’t disprove anything?” How can I disprove the existence of anything? How do I prove the tooth fairy doesn’t exist? Or that Santa Claus doesn’t exist? What these guys did prove is how gullible people are. And that speaks volumes.

  27. joe tee says:

    i cannot seem to understand that many people will not believe in the possibility of unidentified fying objects (ufo’s) unless the damn thing landed in front of their face. Yet people believe in God when to this day, God has still not landed in front of anyone’s face…hmmmm. Give me the evidence!!!! However, I am not that ignorant. Just because some guys decided to pull a prank or debunk ALL ufo sightings for many people to reconsider is not the absolute, I truly hope, as I would hope that by my statement that God does not exists changes anyone’s belief in God. Great people continue too make mistakes and Bill Birnes is too an exception. Haven’t you made a mistake? UFO Hunters was a very informative show that should have remained on. Please too consider that after all, earth is around 4.5 billion years old and if there is intelligent life elsewhere and visiting our planet it will be far more intelligent than we are. Not to believe this is a shame.

    • Skeptic says:

      This is a skeptical site you moron! Take your god and ufos and throw them into a trash can as soon as possible.

      • joe tee says:

        To Skeptic…relax and take a chill pill, man. You have it in for God, not me!!!! God bless you my brother, I will pray for you…

  28. Keep the balance says:

    Are ufo’s Alien craft? Possibly, one of the main reasons is the black budget. It doesn’t make sense, you can give the military huge capitol, and they don’t have to let you know, what they are doing, for national security. But why a black budget? IT would of been highly illegal, without the “need to know” law (which is a disgrace). There has never been a time in history , with as much of a feudal iron grip system, imposed by the military, and government run agencies today.

  29. Stephen Cote says:

    I acually remember one night as I was driving I saw a alien space craft, at least so it seemed. I was already deeply involved in reading skeptical literature and I kept thinking as this saucer shaped object hovered in the distance, “This cannot be happening to me after all the time I have argued with sincere friends against all evidence of alien contact. As I got closer to the object it was a blimp, like the Goodyear type, lit from the bottom and slowly moving away from my local sports arena. But the initial illusion was so real until I got closer.

  30. JoK says:

    It’s a great experiment, and I’m surprised UFO Hunters made such a big thing of it. Good job exposing this! However, it’s not very scientific to deem all UFO-phenomena invalid because of this. All swans are not white, as you might know.

  31. Manuel Ongjunco says:

    What kind of evidence do Chris Russo and Joe Rudy need to be convinced that there are E.T. vehicles flying around earth? I believe that the evidence is overwhelming to a reasonable mind. What kind of scientific proof will satisfy them? Suppose next month, the government finally admits the presence of iDENTIFIED E.T. vehicles, will they claim that the government like all the rest is run by insane and stupid people? Perhaps these guys are just waiting for government confirmation and not any scientific evidence.

    Also will staging a hoax E.T. prove the non-existence of UFO’S?

    Russo and Rudy, prove to me that you are the sons of your mothers. Submit as many evidence as you like and using your line of thinking and reasoning, I will give you reasonable arguments proving to everyone that you are lying. Goodbye, I hope never to talk to both of your ever again.

Patreon: a new way to support the things skeptic creates

Get eSkeptic

Science in your inbox every Wednesday!

eSkeptic delivers great articles, videos, podcasts, reviews, event announcements, and more to your inbox once a week.

Sign me up!

Donate to Skeptic

Please support the work of the Skeptics Society. Make the world a more rational place and help us defend the role of science in society.

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

FREE PDF Download

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

Copyright © 1992–2018. All rights reserved. The Skeptics Society | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. Privacy Policy.